Sugar here, sugar there, sugar almost everywhere. From ketchup to salad dressings, energy drinks, breakfast cereals and more, added sugars are in no short supply in foods and beverages. The average American consumes an estimated 22 teaspoons of sugar everyday. These large amounts of sugar can have many negative effects on your health.
- Contributes to Weight Gain
Foods and beverages with added sugar are seen as the main contributor to the rise of obesity rates worldwide. High sugar foods and beverages burn quickly, leaving you wanting more food. This opens the way for habitual snacking which contributes to weight gain. Added sugar can also disrupt your gut bacteria ecosystem which can prevent your body from properly processing lipids and cholesterol. A hormone known as leptin, which inhibits hunger, can also be derailed. This again opens the way to a habit of eating foods that satisfy temporarily and then leave you looking for more food.
- Diminished Immune Response
Our immune system is the body’s defense system, consisting of while blood cells (WBCs) to protect us from foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, etc. When a threat is determined, these WBCs increase in number in the bloodstream to handle the threat. WBCs can destroy certain types of bacteria at a rate of 14 in 30 minutes. When the level of sugar in the bloodstream is increased, the WBCs become sluggish and cannot operate as efficiently. For example, having just one soda and a doughnut (about 12 teaspoons of sugar) drops the WBCs ability to destroy germs down to just 5.5 per 30 minutes. By comparison, those who have a low intake of sugar have a low rate of infectious diseases.
- Increased Risk of Disease
Consuming too much added sugar can lead to obesity, inflammation, insulin resistance, and has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
- May Negatively Impact Mental Health
Glucose is the brain’s primary source of fuel. However, consuming excess amounts of sugar (especially refined sugar) can cause inflammation in the brain. This, in turn, can have a negative impact on cognitive function, learning ability and mood. Studies have shown that people who have high intakes of sugar have a significantly greater risk of depression compared to those with lower consumption of sugar.
- Decreased Energy
Consuming high-sugar foods cause large blood sugar and insulin swings that can negatively impact overall energy level. These highs and lows can often lead to feelings of fatigue.
- Impacts Skin Health
Blood sugar control has an important role in acne and skin health. High-sugar consumption can increase oil production and inflammation, which can increase the risk of developing acne. One study suggests that insulin resistance may encourage the onset of acne. Excess sugar in the diet can also lead to the production of compounds which may lead to premature aging of the skin, causing wrinkling.
- Poor Dental Health
Bacteria in your mouth loves to feed on sugar. This bacteria fed by excess sugar in the diet can lead to gum disease and cavities.
Eating too much sugar can negatively impact your health, putting you at a higher risk for major health challenges such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Making an intentional effort to greatly limit your consumption of sugar (especially foods with added sugar) can have positive benefits for your health.
Photo by: Henri Mathieu Saint Laurent